Friday, November 09, 2007

Over the Hills:
A Midlife Escape Across America by Bicycle
by David Lamb

This book shared similarities with “Walking to Vermont” (see my January 11, 2006 post) in that the author was beyond middle age and spent a lot of time reflecting on his life and achievements. Both were journalists – LA Times and NY Times. Both were very mature in their writing. Both were merely in the same physical condition. Both met up with old friends along the way. Both had a knee ailment. Both had doubts about making it and were told they were nuts by friends. Both made it! I enjoyed both books, but “Walking to Vermont” was more interesting.

Lamb took the Trans Am route across the lower states ( URL here ) where he met many characters who were generally quite friendly and helpful. The rural characters tend to be quite charismatic in their own way. In Alabama two toothless and intimidating grimy young men befriended Lamb and helped him across a dangerous bridge with heavy traffic and then disappeared into the hills.

The book was full of well-researched bicycling history which was downright fascinating. He points out many times how bicycling changed the face of the United States and was influential in the Women’s Liberation Movement, establishing a better transportation infrastructure and before the auto provided a means of transportation and economic gains for the country. These facts lend the idea that cycling has gone full circle within the one and a quarter century since the “safety” bicycle came into full production.

The trip was rather uneventful, which we surprisingly wonder how the book is even not dull, but Lamb in fills with so much info that you get lost and sidetracked when the focus isn’t on the personal story of riding across the country.

The inspiration of his journey is due to his age. If a man over 50 can bike across the country in a couple of months, it can be accomplished by mostly anyone capable of climbing aboard a touring bike. Character and stamina are both built along the way.

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